Asuka def. Raquel Rodriguez, Liv Morgan, Carmella, Nikki Cross and Natalya – Women’s Elimination Chamber Match
Result of the match was pretty much a foregone conclusion, but overall, I thought this was a rock solid Elimination Chamber matches. Usually, in an Elimination Chamber match, there’s typically a specific role that each competitor has to play. Here, Nikki Cross is your wild card, Rodriquez is your powerhouse, Liv is your steady, fiesty presence, Carmella is the opportunistic heel, Natalya is your veteran presence and Asuka is your de facto favorite. I believe all of those roles played well and resulted in a solid match.
For one, I was particularly surprised that out of the final two to make it, Carmella was the one who eliminated two competitors and made it. I don’t know if that’s indicative of a sign of things to come, but I believe a lot of us were expecting it to be a war between Asuka and Raquel, the two favorites to win this match. But overall, the structure was pretty solid, and while I don’t believe we saw anything that made it very memorable, it accomplished its purpose, and now we have Belair vs. Asuka at WrestleMania to look forward to, which should be something to look forward to. ***1/4
Bobby Lashley def. Brock Lesnar by DQ
If this is where Lashley and Lesnar’s story ends, then what a disappointing way to go out. Last year, Lashley beats Lesnar after Roman interferes. Then, Brock Lesnar gets a fluke pin on Bobby Lashley at Crown Jewel. And now at Elimination Chamber, we get a DQ finish that implies Lesenar would have tapped if he didn’t resort to a low blow. These two were just never able to hit the ground running outside of just spamming their finishers. Considering how much many wanted these two to finally face against each other, I think this rivalry ended up being a dud. Such a shame. **
Edge and Beth Phoenix def. Finn Balor and Rhea Ripley
Kind of surprising that they went with the Grit Couple here. The only thing I knew for sure was that Rhea wasn’t going to pinned for obvious reasons. However, I will say that this was also a very solid match between these two teams as well. I’m not entirely sure what the plan will be going forward is, but I think Edge and Balor are set to have a final blow off match at WrestleMania.
It was announced after the show that Edge will answer Austin Theory’s challenge for the United States Championship. My guess is Judgement Day will get involved and cost him the match, and that will be the launching pad for a final encounter between Edge and Balor at WrestleMania, which would make sense, all things considering.
I thought Beth Phoenix looked great in this as well. The transitions were pretty good, there were solid callbacks to their encounter at Extreme Rules in the fall, and it provided solid continuity. ***1/4
Austin Theory (C) def. Seth Rollins, Bronson Reed, Johnny Gargano, Montez Ford and Damian Priest – United States Championship (Elimination Chamber)
Definitely an outstanding Elimination Chamber match if I’ve ever seen one, that’s for sure. And they had the right combination of power, athleticism and experience to make this thing work. First off, Montez Ford had a star-making performance here if I’ve ever seen one. He was literally flying all over the place and resembled Spider-Man at times, diving on guys, crawling to the top of the Chamber, and diving on people. It’s been rumored for a while that WWE is high on him and they may want him to launch a singles career, but we’ll see whether that comes to fruition. The physical tools are definitely there.
Bronson Reed made an impact in this match as well, and while he was the first one eliminated, he was very well protected, which bodes well for his future. Priest, Gargano and Rollins all played excellent supplementary roles to this match and helped put everything together. Specifically, this Elimination Chamber match had more high spots than usual.
In a match featuring Gargano, Rollins and Ford, that was probably to be expected, but the ambitious nature of this Chamber match separated it from what we got in years past, where everything is mostly mat and chain-based offense. I definitely appreciated the shift here. It made for more engaging action that got the crowd involved and chants of “This is awesome” before the first man was eliminated. Of course, that could just be a product of working for a hot, Canadian crowd, but I believe it was deserving of that. It’s also abundantly clear Rollins/Paul is the plan for WrestleMania, which I’m most definitely for. While you hate to see a Chamber match end that way, the ending was the perfect way to build towards one of WWE’s high profile WrestleMania matches as well as have Theory retain his title. Well done all around. ****1/2
Roman Reigns (C) def. Sami Zayn – WWE Undisputed Universal Championship
I am going to write a separate article on this, but The Bloodline’s storyline has been peak cinema, and this match was the culmination of that. Honestly speaking, this is one of those situations where I felt WWE could have called an audible and have Sami win, because the storyline coming up to this match felt a lot like Daniel Bryan’s ascension over The Authority 9 years ago. It was practically a mirror image, with the red-hot home crowd on his side and everything. It was amazing to see.
We’ve been long wondering how long it would take for Sami to regain the magic that made him a hot commodity in NXT, and his role in The Bloodline has proven to be the spark that gets him back on track. WWE apparently doesn’t see him as a top guy, so the end result of the match was never in question but I absolutely loved every minute of this. It had everything. Drama. Near-falls. External interference. It was all wonderfully done.
The only thing I’d say is that the multiple ref bumps were a bit much. In order to get to the point, I think you could have just had one knocked out for the duration, because I felt like one ref bump per Uso interference only served to pad time in the match. But it was still an amazing match. I guess the problem I’ve had with some of Roman’s matches during his title reign is the fact that it never feels like he’s in danger of losing, and that takes the air out of things sometimes.
However, there were multiple occasions where I thought this could have been the moment. Unlikely as it would be to end Roman’s reign 6 weeks before WrestleMania, I’ve seen crazier things happen before. Also, I was quite confused and Kevin Owens deciding to wait until after Sami got screwed over to help him. We clearly saw Jimmy come to help Roman while the match was going on. So when KO saw that Roman was about to pull the same stunts to retain, he just sat back and watched and waited till the match was over to get his pound of flesh? Wouldn’t you want to stick it to the Bloodline by screwing Reigns out of his championship? Just a thought.
Best of all, I felt legitimately sad for Sami after his defeat, which lends me to give credit for the writers for the emotional element they’ve added to the storyline, because Sami has once again become the elite babyface that is immensely over with the crowd once again. And after this run, I sincerely hope it leads to one day Sami breaking through and becoming a world champion. While that day didn’t come tonight, he certainly gave us a performance for the ages. ****3/4
Not much to complain about here. This PPV essentially followed NXT’s playbook over the years. A five match card that gave sufficient time for each match to tell a proper story. You had a solid mixed tag match, a solid Elimination Chamber match, a great Elimination Chamber match, and a fantastic main event. The only thing that kind of disappointed was Lesnar/Lashley, but even that ended on somewhat of a high note with Lesnar going beserk. Overall, Canada got themselves a treat tonight. Thumbs up for Elimiantion Chamber 2023.
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